My late friend Cecile Pineda wrote a powerful book arguing that nuclear war was already with us. As I wrote in my eulogy for Cecile, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste is collective suicide.
On March 22, China and Russia issued a joint statement of their intention to avoid the use of nuclear weapons.
Within days, Great Britain announced it will ship DU ammunition to Ukraine for use in the proxy war against Russia. Meanwhile, research physicist Chris Busby published data showing elevated levels of uranium in the atmosphere over the British isles. That’s a fact, and his hypothesis about causation is that DU is already present in munitions used by Ukraine.
The British government’s announcement has had several consequences.
☢️ Some commenters wondered if the plan to irradiate Ukraine’s prime agricultural land would sit well with big corporate players like Monsanto that have been buying up real estate there.
☢️ Russia announced it plans to move nuclear weapons into Belarus this summer. (Naturally the U.S. and NATO nations are crying foul without acknowledging that they already have nuclear weapons in position in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye if not Poland, too.)
☢️ More attention was paid to data on the long term effects in Serbia of being bombed with DU munitions by NATO during the Clinton administration e.g. “5,500 out of every 100,000 Serbs suffer from some kind of carcinoma, a rate nearly three times the global average.”
☢️ Same for data on the use of DU by the U.S. and NATO in Iraq, especially concentrated in the area of Fallujah. Clusters of birth defects occurred early there attributed to DU, and these persist.
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) condemned the UK decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine and elaborated thus:
A byproduct of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, DU emits three quarters of the radioactivity of natural uranium and shares many of its risks and dangers. It is used in armour piercing rounds as it is heavy and can easily penetrate steel. However on impact, toxic or radioactive dust can be released and subsequently inhaled.
DU shells were used extensively by the US and British in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, as well as in the Balkans during the 1990s.
It is thought that the extensive use of these shells is responsible for the sharp rise in the incidence rate of some cancers like breast cancer or lymphoma in the areas they were used. Other illnesses linked to DU include kidney failure, nervous system disorders, lung disease and reproductive problems. However, a lack of reliable data on exposure to DU means no large-scale study on its true impact exists.
DU sidesteps frying its targets to a crisp. In other words, the thermo part of thermonuclear is absent. And that is a good thing.
My friend Fang used to protest during the Iraq war using a sign that said D.U. = war crime. I used to tease him about what passing motorists made of his message, guessing that they read D.U. as the Homer Simpson exclamation, “Duh!”
Maybe I was underestimating how informed the general public is, but after watching highlights of the congressional hearings about Tik Tok this week I don’t think so.
To end this grim post on a lightly humorous note (and the promise to do another geography quiz post soon):
Link to tweet if embedded video does not work for you: https://twitter.com/caitoz/status/1639087482380910594